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Maarten Bauer

[Discussion] How original do we need to be?

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Hello everybody, 

Currently I am studying at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague (NL) and by far the most discussed topic in the classes, breaks, meetings and even parties is originality. 

In my opinion this is the most important question to all composers regardless the answers. That is why I would like to open a discussion on the following question:

What defines originality?

Are you writing (tonal) music in the style of... and is that original enough? Or is originality creating something that is not done before yet?

Then, the core question is the following:

How original do we need to be in our music? 

Or instead of "do we need to be" we could use "should we be" 

Consider the goals that you want your music to have: 

Do you want to reach a big audience? Or do you want to revolutionize music? Or are you looking for a bridge between more popular and avant-garde styles?

Taking it to a personal, self-reflecting level:

What defines YOUR originality? 

Do you think that you have you 'own voice'? Or is it more a combination of different styles that make it sound like a new style, thus 'your style'? 

 

Since this forum is called "Young Composers" and focusses, in my opinion, a lot on the educational, learning and feedback process of composers, I think that this discussion is a MUST . Therefore, I ask you all, dear composers, to share your opinions, views, experiences and knowledge in this topic and if you do not want to write about it, please think about it yourself! 

 

My warmest regards, 

Maarten Bauer

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I don't know how much music history you've studied up to this point, but this whole notion of material-based originality came from the genesis of the Romantic era, where the advancement of middle-class music making along with the general advancement of music printing/publishing combined. Composers started using super fancy/exotic-sounding titles and used increased harmonic changes to be more expressive and have their pick at the newly free market.

I'll elaborate on my own opinions/answer more of the proposed questions if this discussion gets more lively, but I'm more a fan of the way the Classical era dealt with originality, where quality was based upon how well you could use old forms and conventions in your own style/ways. It doesn't sound very modern to us because it was their styles, but Haydn's and Beethoven's music were pretty novel when they were written. 

The modern era has taken this Romantic ideal of expression and newness to its extreme, trying to push progress without having the patience for it. The elitism and high-artness of modern classical music generally glosses over the music most people will listen to; how subtle its changes are to formulas, but how effectively catchy the songs are. 

Maybe my thoughts on this will change over time.

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10 minutes ago, Monarcheon said:

I don't know how much music history you've studied up to this point, but this whole notion of material-based originality came from the genesis of the Romantic era, where the advancement of middle-class music making along with the general advancement of music printing/publishing combined. Composers started using super fancy/exotic-sounding titles and used increased harmonic changes to be more expressive and have their pick at the newly free market.

I'll elaborate on my own opinions/answer more of the proposed questions if this discussion gets more lively, but I'm more a fan of the way the Classical era dealt with originality, where quality was based upon how well you could use old forms and conventions in your own style/ways. It doesn't sound very modern to us because it was their styles, but Haydn's and Beethoven's music were pretty novel when they were written. 

The modern era has taken this Romantic ideal of expression and newness to its extreme, trying to push progress without having the patience for it. The elitism and high-artness of modern classical music generally glosses over the music most people will listen to; how subtle its changes are to formulas, but how effectively catchy the songs are. 

Maybe my thoughts on this will change over time.

 

The romantic 'era' indeed turned the complete view on art and music more specifically. The associations we have nowadays with terms like 'talent', 'genius' and 'originality' etc. all derive from romanticism. I am very aware of this and because the romantic meaning of originality is roughly the contemporary meaning (at least in Dutch conservertoires) too, I was concentrating on the the questions above. 

I am considered one of the most conservatives in the conservatoire, since I want to be original by using traditions in a way that feels natural, yet inventive to me. 

Thanks for this great addition! 🙂

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On 8/2/2019 at 11:34 AM, Maarten Bauer said:

What defines originality?

Are you writing (tonal) music in the style of... and is that original enough? Or is originality creating something that is not done before yet?

This is a good topic for discussion; thanks for bringing it up! I think each of us creates "original" music in the sense that we as composers create works of music that are uniquely our own. True, they may resemble certain styles and forms of other composers—I'm not sure one can ever escape that since all of our musical ideas are built upon stuff we've heard before and internalized. As we become more experienced, we're able to remove ourselves farther away from those influences, so our music slowly takes on its own voice.

As to the "style" of originality as defined by the classical music elites, I'm stumped there. The style of music heralded by the elites as "purely original" is, as you mentioned, atonal. Proponents of atonal music posit that it's a musical era just like Romantic or Impressionism, but I disagree; up until the Modern/Postmodern era of classical music, composers followed the natural "rules" of music. Debussy (an Impressionist for those following along at home) did some weird things with tonality but he obeyed the rules. The human ear is wired to interpret certain pitch relationships as consonant and others as dissonant—and these days, some as purely chaotic. Modern/postmodern classical music, with its strong atonality, is the first musical movement to actually rebel against this natural rule, or at least disregard it, in the hopes of staying original.

So, all this to say that modern composers have abandoned tonality because they believe there's nothing "original" left to be had there. Again, I disagree. It takes a lot more work and creative thinking to find an original voice in the world of tonality, but it's entirely possible—and very satisfying! I've a hunch that the great composers of our generation remembered 100 years down the road will not be the progressive, 12-tone serialists churning out mind-boggling, gut-wrenching cacophonies; rather, it will be those who continued to tinker with tonality and made music that meshed with the human soul.

On 8/2/2019 at 11:34 AM, Maarten Bauer said:

How original do we need to be in our music? 

Or instead of "do we need to be" we could use "should we be" 

Consider the goals that you want your music to have: 

Do you want to reach a big audience? Or do you want to revolutionize music? Or are you looking for a bridge between more popular and avant-garde styles?

My goals are rather simple: write music that I like. I'd much prefer to revolutionize music than reach a big audience, but (for reasons mentioned above) I don't feel like that's going in the direction of the current avant-garde styles. There's still hundreds of years' worth of exploring to do in the world of tonality!

So how original do we need to be? Well, be as original as you want to be! Some people create amazing works that sound like Beethoven or Mozart could have written. Others' sound like something from an outfit from Mars. The problem I find is that composers are either cliché tonal composers (little musical training) or else they're atonal. This probably has to do with the fact that atonal music is the prima donna right now among the elites; atonal music will receive the most praise (and it's difficult to criticize since it doesn't follow a lot of rules), so "serious" composers seek originality via that route.

If there are atonal composers reading this, please don't get the wrong impression! I respect your compositional styles 100%; my point is that atonal music is not the sole arbiter of originality.

On 8/2/2019 at 11:34 AM, Maarten Bauer said:

What defines YOUR originality? 

Do you think that you have you 'own voice'? Or is it more a combination of different styles that make it sound like a new style, thus 'your style'? 

As you might have guessed, my music is strongly tonal. However, I use a rich combination of chords throughout so it doesn't sound too cliché. In fact, I hate having to use conventional chord progressions; I strive to avoid them when I can. My works have a strong thematic element to them but are rarely melody-driven (in other words, not like Tchaikovsky and other Romantics). I also use a lot of unconventional modulations that loosely tie to the previous key. And I love counterpoint—I always try to use it when I can. It helps ensure that all players have "interesting" parts to play!

I guess I'm describing Impressionism, and maybe that category best fits my musical style. Anyone is welcome to take a listen to some of my stuff and give their own opinion. 🙂 

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This is a great discussion point - and one that I think the world of composition needs.

On 8/2/2019 at 5:34 PM, Maarten Bauer said:

What defines originality?

Are you writing (tonal) music in the style of... and is that original enough? Or is originality creating something that is not done before yet?

There is no secret that I am a tonal composer. It's just the music I enjoy writing and listening to.

As a composer, whichever combination of tones you use will create something that is unique to you, whether is be 5, 7, 8, or 12. Provided you are not copying a piece directly, then it is original enough. The biggest problem comes from exposure. Why would a (paying) audience go to see a symphony by an unknown composer which sounded Classical, rather than their favourite Mozart one. Here lies the problem with originality - performances.

Bottom line, if you want to write tonally, do it. It's still original. However atonal music is more likely to be performed, which brings me to the next point.

On 8/2/2019 at 5:34 PM, Maarten Bauer said:

How original do we need to be in our music? 

Or instead of "do we need to be" we could use "should we be" 

Consider the goals that you want your music to have: 

Do you want to reach a big audience? Or do you want to revolutionize music? Or are you looking for a bridge between more popular and avant-garde styles?

I, as a composer, want to write music that I enjoy. If someone tells you what style of music you should write, then that will ruin the enjoyment of music for you. This is the problem with conservatoires, who tend to only accept people with an avant-garde style which they consider to be more original. Not to attack John Cage, but silence? Seriously!? Disclaimer: I mean no disrespect to atonal/avant-garde composers. You are all equally skilled and creative. I just personally don't like the style.

If even one other person besides me listens to my music and enjoys it, then I feel like I have succeeded in a way. I would like to get my music performed but composition isn't my main pursuit in music so I don't mind as much. New music ensembles tend to only want to perform avant-garde pieces, and traditional orchestras generally do not accept pieces from budding composers.

As a composer, I want to reach out to other musicians and show them what I have worked on. You could say I am trying to "revolutionise music" because I want to show the world that tonal composers still flourish, even though they are looked down on by competitions and festivals.

On 8/2/2019 at 5:34 PM, Maarten Bauer said:

What defines YOUR originality? 

Do you think that you have you 'own voice'? Or is it more a combination of different styles that make it sound like a new style, thus 'your style'? 

I thought about this a few months ago. I love the works of the greats from the last few centuries. It appeals strongly to me, because my ear - as most ears do - perceives it as right. Tonal music is designed to be pleasant - but that doesn't mean it is limited to what most non musicians think classical music is.

Take two birds sitting on a branch. One sings tonally, the other races rats over a finish line and sings the notes in the order that they place. Which one will get a mate? The ear - our ear, an ant's ear, a bird's ear - likes the harmonic relationship between the frequencies of a tonal scale.

My style, as I have said before, is tonal, but I like to experiment with the changing harmonies caused by a chromatic movement.

Listen to this simply beautiful piece by Grieg. I didn't play it for a while, because from looking at the score I could see it had a lot of chromaticism. But it is still tonal, and this is what I try to write. I don't count myself as a pastiche of Grieg, because I draw my style from another source.

Scotland has a rich traditional music heritage, and if you listen carefully to some of my most recent music (not posted here yet) you can hear the influences from playing fiddle in a school folk band. I even write specific Scottish traditional pieces to play in the group, although that is not the main part of my output.

My style?

Tonal×Accidentals×Scottish Music

Music is so subjective.

Thanks for sticking with me, it's my longest post ever.

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I honestly think that atonality has ruined classical music and that we need something like a Classical Period Revival. I compose my music with this in mind, focusing on the classical and romantic periods as far as influence. It isn't that I don't like say Shostakovitch, a modernist. I do, mainly because even in his most dissonant works, he stays tonal. In fact, a few people have said that my Waltz in C minor sounds like Shostakovitch, when I was actually aiming for a more Beethovenian vibe to it(thus the use of the Fate Motif and fitting it into a waltz rhythm). But I absolutely do not care for Schoenberg and his atonality because atonality means extreme dissonance and could mean a dissonant ending that never resolves. That is just wrong. 12 tone writing, sure, I don't mind as long as I can harmonize it with a completely tonal chord progression. Complete atonality, absolutely not except in a few cases like Mars by Gustav Holst, where it sounds more like competing keys than true atonality.

Extreme dissonance that nevertheless resolves, absolutely, that is very typical for Beethoven, my absolute favorite composer. Extreme dissonance that never resolves, no, it's just wrong. Polytonality, again, I don't mind it, and I have used it a few times, but only with keys that guarantee consonance, such as C major and A minor being played simultaneously. C major and Eb major is another one of those consonant key pairs, but to me at least, it doesn't sound polytonal in most circumstances. Instead, it just sounds like the whole thing is in C minor, even if it breaks down into a melody in Eb and a bass line in C.

As for originality. I think that as long as it isn't a complete carbon copy or very simple tweaks compared to the source, it is original. So if the melody and bass are the exact same but the instrumentation is different, original. If the melody is tweaked and the bass is completely different, original, If both are completely different, original, And of course improvisations like my Waltz in C minor would be original as well. As for whether I would consider the piece that I have recently been working on, The Beethoven Variations, which is based off of Beethoven's fifth, to be original, I would because of multiple reasons listed here:

  • Different instrumentation from Beethoven's fifth(String quartet in my piece vs Orchestra for Beethoven's fifth)
  • I'm only taking the first theme of the first movement as a basis for my piece, nothing else
  • I'm composing a Theme and Variations, and it is very typical for the variations to be original to the composer who wrote a Theme and Variations, while the theme is from a different composer or is a folk song or nursery rhyme
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Well, just to throw my two penneth in,  I really believe that "originality" in the basest sense of the word, doesn't really exist.  We have even had works of complete silence, so if you can tell me a style or genre that doesn't yet exist, (which by definition, can be the only "original" form of composition, then I would love to know it.

In the past, "Classical music" didn't exist either, there was just music.  There weren't enough alternatives to warrant a distinction between genres and so the term Classical music was never applied to the likes of Bach, Handle, Mozart, Beethoven etc., in their own times as they were really considered the pop musicians of their day.  Now that we do have the distinction, we have to consider who we want our music to appeal to.  The vast majority of ordinary classical music lovers, the general public, which is the greatest audience for our craft, still prefers tonal, melody led music with conventional harmonies and meters.  It really is a much smaller proportion of the audience, (still a huge number however), that are looking for "new original" music.

Given that on one hand, anything you write, provided it is not a direct copy, is original, and on the other hand, since everything has been done before, nothing is original, then really the only thing that remains, is a question of individual taste, and to which audience you want to appeal.

I think also, if you get caught up too tightly on trying to be original, then you compromise yourself in as much as the reason you are writing, is not because "es lo que sale de los cojones" (this is what comes out of your soul), but rather to try and prove something to either yourself or to others, and I don't think that should really be the motive for producing art, of any description.  Although I should also say that ANY motive for producing art, is a valid one, as long as something is being produced that someone else can appreciate on whatever level, then it's good.

 

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2 hours ago, caters said:

I honestly think that atonality has ruined classical music and that we need something like a Classical Period Revival. I compose my music with this in mind, focusing on the classical and romantic periods as far as influence. It isn't that I don't like say Shostakovitch, a modernist. I do, mainly because even in his most dissonant works, he stays tonal. In fact, a few people have said that my Waltz in C minor sounds like Shostakovitch, when I was actually aiming for a more Beethovenian vibe to it(thus the use of the Fate Motif and fitting it into a waltz rhythm). But I absolutely do not care for Schoenberg and his atonality because atonality means extreme dissonance and could mean a dissonant ending that never resolves. That is just wrong. 12 tone writing, sure, I don't mind as long as I can harmonize it with a completely tonal chord progression. Complete atonality, absolutely not except in a few cases like Mars by Gustav Holst, where it sounds more like competing keys than true atonality.

@caters I must say that I personally do not think that atonality has "ruined" music, rather taken it down a path that no one in centuries past expected. I don't like Schonberg's atonal music (as a personal taste) but as a composer he did so much more, and I find some of his early works pleasant.

What I don't like is people that copy Schonberg's atonal ideals, as so much music composed these days is.

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I lack the higher level of music education that a lot of y'all have, so my thoughts aren't based on knowing a ton of music history or advanced theory. I do have an opinion, though. It's already been said, but if we define 'originality' as some metric of how 'brand spanking new' something is, then nothing is truly original. We're always drawing influence from ideas and sounds we've already observed or experienced, musical or otherwise. That's why I don't like that way of thinking. There's definitely some merit in being able to accomplish your goals by doing something bizarre or unusual with your music, but no one should be surprised that most listeners aren't flocking to hear that stuff. Using your musical abilities and adding your own ideas to pre-existing styles and forms (like what @Monarcheon was talking about) can be a good way to find originality too. Not to say modernism is a bad thing, but over-asserting its importance as a way of advancing music seems silly to me. Personally, I'm finding it very fulfilling to reharmonize and re-arrange music for my church, giving it more color and energy. I don't do it as a way to be original. I just do it because I like it and I think worship music these days is really lackluster. Originality is a worthy goal, but it's not one that I'm interested in chasing. Instead of seeking it out, I'm hoping that honest effort and an open mind will bring me there naturally.

Also sorry, but cojones means balls.

2 hours ago, Mark101 said:

 "es lo que sale de los cojones" (this is what comes out of your soul)

 

 

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38 minutes ago, KJthesleepdeprived said:

Also sorry, but cojones means balls.

4 hours ago, Mark101 said:

 "es lo que sale de los cojones" (this is what comes out of your soul)

LOL, I know what cojones means, I live in Spain and am married to a Spaniard, so I speak Spanish very well, but to translate literally would not be understood in an English speaking forum.  Pero en Español, es un frase muy comun, que significa, mas o menos, lo que he dicho, por lo menos, en este occasion.

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4 hours ago, Mark101 said:

Given that on one hand, anything you write, provided it is not a direct copy, is original, and on the other hand, since everything has been done before, nothing is original, then really the only thing that remains, is a question of individual taste, and to which audience you want to appeal.

@Mark101 Great point! I think individual preferences is what makes art exactly that: an art. Nobody corners the market on the definition of beauty; in my opinion, the best artists are the most versatile—those who can adapt and write to many different audiences.

4 hours ago, Mark101 said:

I think also, if you get caught up too tightly on trying to be original, then you compromise yourself in as much as the reason you are writing, is not because "es lo que sale de los cojones" (this is what comes out of your soul), but rather to try and prove something to either yourself or to others, and I don't think that should really be the motive for producing art, of any description.  Although I should also say that ANY motive for producing art, is a valid one, as long as something is being produced that someone else can appreciate on whatever level, then it's good.

@Mark101 I must also agree with this. If our end goal is simply to be original, then we miss out on so much of the journey! Hopefully, if we're doing it right, originality will be a byproduct of our craft. I like to think, in the future, folks will be able to hear my music and go, "Oh, that's a Brazeal. You can tell because of [variable x, y, z]."

2 hours ago, aMusicComposer said:

What I don't like is people that copy Schonberg's atonal ideals, as so much music composed these days is.

@aMusicComposer Right on! I am perhaps proclaiming my ignorance here, but all (hyperbolic language: I mean a lot of) atonal music sounds the same to me. I usually have to listen for specific instrumentation to have some hope of identifying the composer. (Oh, it uses an ondes Martenot—must be a Messiaen.)

48 minutes ago, KJthesleepdeprived said:

Originality is a worthy goal, but it's not one that I'm interested in chasing. Instead of seeking it out, I'm hoping that honest effort and an open mind will bring me there naturally.

@KJthesleepdeprived Very well-put, and I agree wholeheartedly! I'm also not "musically educated," although I've heard it said if you don't get a musical education you're uninformed, and if you get a musical education you're misinformed. (Ok, not entirely true, but you see my point.)

54 minutes ago, KJthesleepdeprived said:

y'all

@KJthesleepdeprived Good to know we speak the same language! 😉

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6 hours ago, caters said:

I honestly think that atonality has ruined classical music and that we need something like a Classical Period Revival.

Yikes. If you never learn something crucial to the creation of the canon, you're missing out on a huge portion of the whole, in this case the musical era you're currently living in. While I personally am not a huge fan of the Galant sound, you'd better believe I busted my ass understanding how it works. 
And besides, people already have a sense of when pushing a boundary goes too far in a given instance. The Beatles's Revolution 9 stained the White Album for the longest time. 

1 hour ago, Tónskáld said:

Great point! I think individual preferences is what makes art exactly that: an art. Nobody corners the market on the definition of beauty; in my opinion, the best artists are the most versatile—those who can adapt and write to many different audiences.

I agree with the second portion of this statement, but not the first. People have a tendency to take art too seriously, looking for meaning and praising its contributions to the development of the genre as a whole. While I personally think it's kind of wasted effort on their part, I don't think it stems from any knowledgable preference. Ask most people and they'll tell you they don't like Country/Rap/Classical/etc. and be unable to say why. I hate it when people praise something for being "ahead of its time", because they look at things outside what makes the art good in the first place.

2 hours ago, KJthesleepdeprived said:

I'm hoping that honest effort and an open mind will bring me there naturally.

Succinct, and I think the best way to sum this whole thing up, personally. It's no good to rush through the learning process; things take time to form expertise and that's okay.

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3 hours ago, Monarcheon said:

I agree with the second portion of this statement, but not the first. People have a tendency to take art too seriously, looking for meaning and praising its contributions to the development of the genre as a whole. While I personally think it's kind of wasted effort on their part, I don't think it stems from any knowledgable preference. Ask most people and they'll tell you they don't like Country/Rap/Classical/etc. and be unable to say why. I hate it when people praise something for being "ahead of its time", because they look at things outside what makes the art good in the first place.

Sorry, I don't mean to keep jumping in on the discussion like I have great things to say... but I was unclear of what you meant here. I feel like we're saying the same things, I just worded my position badly perhaps. I was trying to convey the idea that art, and music in particular, is susceptible to a theoretically infinite number of "art forms" because there are a theoretically infinite number of opinions to shape those forms. I find this to be a beautiful thing in and of itself since our individual artwork is a unique expression of ourselves. What I disagree with is a "credentialing body" (i.e., academia, musical elitists) declaring what is art and what is not—and then claiming the right to censor those who disagree with them by labeling them as "unvisionary" or "too uncultured to see the deeper meaning." The beholders (i.e., the audience) of said artwork should determine its fate. If it's truly a bad work of art, the beholders will know. Even if the credentialing body is screaming otherwise.

And... now I'm officially off-topic.

Originality. Yes. If it's original and it's art, it will stand the test of time. Now I'll shut up.

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The difficulty is that when trying to be original, you have no control over what your contemporaries are doing.  Ideas don't appear out of a vacuum.  We are all the products of our cumulative experiences.  So it's very likely that the same influences that nudge you towards writing a certain kind of music are acting on other composers in the same way.  There are a LOT of people on the planet at this point in history, and it ends up being a numbers game.  And today we live in a globally connected world.  We don't have the comfort of long periods of musical isolation from the neighboring cathedral towns or royal courts while we gather our thoughts and develop our ideas.  If you're working on it, someone else is going to hear about it.  If someone else is working on it, it's hard to stop their ideas from leaking into your inner soundscape.  

We also have no control over what happens after us.  Trying to strategize the best direction for your music now, in the context of music history two hundred years from now, is a pretty impossible task.  If you've got the foresight to solve that one, can you please stop pursuing composing and sort out world peace instead?  What seems original now may completely miss the boat for what ends up being significant.  

I say, just write what you like.  One of the best predictors of being important to the direction of music in your time is to write enough music to get good, and to get good enough to be performed, filed away in music libraries, and passed around to other musicians so you can influence other people.  If you hate what you are writing, you won't be able to stick around long enough to get good.  You'll quit before you get started.  So compose music that you find moving, don't quit to spend your free time watching TV, and if you are very lucky, you may stumble on something original enough to move the gears of progress a notch.  

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On 8/2/2019 at 9:34 AM, Maarten Bauer said:

What defines originality?

Something which defies expectations as per conventions, but I think in the context of this discussion, it's probably more fair to say "a style that is somehow identifiable to a particular composer"  But really, everyone who isn't trying to imitate someone else will develop a style of their own without having to really think about it.

On 8/2/2019 at 9:34 AM, Maarten Bauer said:

How original do we need to be in our music? 

This depends entirely on what you want to do

If all you want to do is write a good piece of music, then less "originality" and more "familiarity" is good. Having a distinct style there is not a bad thing, but not required.

If you want to be a composer for film and stuff, then having something that sets you apart from the endless waves of competition is vital. Newcomers in that business generally complain about being undercut by guys who will "do it for free" or at least less. However, what they fail to realize is that they're all making the same "trailer" and Hans Zimmer knock-off music; the only thing they can offer their potential clients is a cheaper price. Meanwhile, guys like Silvestri, whose signature is clear in their scores, can basically command their price and get tons of work — because they bring something no one else can authentically offer to the film. 

On 8/2/2019 at 9:34 AM, Maarten Bauer said:

Do you want to reach a big audience? Or do you want to revolutionize music? Or are you looking for a bridge between more popular and avant-garde styles?

There are two things that people who are into primarily orchestral music generally fail to realize:

1. The kinds of music that they study and put on a pedestal was not the music of the common folk. "Art music" was — and I don't care how much you flame me for saying it — mostly a trend designed to appeal to the aristocracy. It HAD to be different from what the peasants were listening to, or else the rich would have no interest in it.

Just look at this self-righteous letter penned by Chopin

dLQuNsJ.jpg

Yeah man, screw all those disgusting normal people who like music they can dance to. The bulk of Beethoven and Mozart's pieces that remain popular with most people today, are curiously their simplest ones.

The reality is that the kind of music most people listened to back then, was not much different from what appeals to people to day. A good tune and rhythm. This is why old folk tunes have maintained their appeal through the ages while rich-people music from the times has waned. Suspiciously, interest in it has greatly waned now that everyone can afford it. Because now, rich people can afford yachts and fancy vacations and disgusting "gourmet" foods that are over-rated and they probably don't even like, but they can flex on the normies with it.

I find it amusing that all the great sculptures, paintings and architecture of European history are still appreciated the world over, and in most cases were BUILT by the underclass. But suddenly, when it came to art music and they said they didn't like it, now they were wrong. They were "dunning-krugered", etc. Same with the inane tat that is "modern art". Now, the rich people know what's best!

Meanwhile, orchestras are doing everything in their power, playing "lesser" music, to stay relevant in 2020 and with good reason: There is no rule that says society must have orchestras. So if those orchestras aren't playing music people want to hear, they will die out.

2. Most deliberate attempts at "revolutionizing" music have failed

On 8/2/2019 at 9:34 AM, Maarten Bauer said:

Do you want to reach a big audience? Or do you want to revolutionize music? Or are you looking for a bridge between more popular and avant-garde styles?

Shoenberg and his serialism are gone, and probably for a reason.

Now look, I'm willing to agree that standards have fallen greatly since the 20th century due to technocracy, industry nepotism, and consumerism. But like I said, you'll find that what MOST people like about music has not actually changed.

Most people would rather listen to old sea shanties than schoenberg, just as most people would rather listen to AC/DC than Mahler.

When you compare The Parson's Farewell to Thunderstruck, it immediately becomes clear what the musical appeal and similarities between to the two are that are responsible for their longevity. 

Given that, I think it's pretty clear that if you try to reinvent the wheel, you're going to wind up disappointed in the long run. 

 

 

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Originality is not the ultimate goal of a composer. Or at least, it shouldn't be. It's a step along the journey to finding a creative voice and being able to use it when faced with empty paper.

4 minutes ago, AngelCityOutlaw said:

So if those orchestras aren't playing music people want to hear, they will die out.

This is why many orchestras are unwilling to take on new works. I spoke to someone who used to work for the RSNO, and they said that they got dozens of emails from budding composers every day, just wanting the opportunity to have a work performed.

On 8/2/2019 at 5:34 PM, Maarten Bauer said:

What defines YOUR originality? 

Do you think that you have you 'own voice'? Or is it more a combination of different styles that make it sound like a new style, thus 'your style'?

I've already answered this in another comment (see above) but I feel that it's worth saying that an original - or even unoriginal - style is all about exposure. Whatever music you listen to is the style you will subconsciously take on.

Art is so difficult to explain in words, that it can make discussions impossible, especially to those who aren't native English speakers. I applaud you all.

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After reading these wonderful, inspiring, but also important well-thought and well-based opinion, it is time for my own thoughts. 🙂

On 8/2/2019 at 6:34 PM, Maarten Bauer said:

What defines originality?

Are you writing (tonal) music in the style of... and is that original enough? Or is originality creating something that is not done before yet?

When I think about originality I do not immediately think of musical styles or creating your own voice.
I see originality rather as the capability to solve problems and enigmas in a way that it is not (partly) done yet.
So, there must exist something before you can apply originality. There must be an issue to be solved before it can be solved.

In other words, we need already existing 'formats' to be original. I am not saying that we should stay within these existing formats, we should push the bounderies of these instead.
To clarify:

Already existing format
Western functional tonal system, i.e. scales, chords, progressions

Applying originality
We could look at how we can manipulate this western, traditional system into an original system, which sounds new, but is still linked to the pre-original issue.
I am doing something like this with pentatonic music. I ''invent'' my own tonality for a piece and then I stick with this. It gives me the feeling that I am building my own world.
Listen here for the result:

I don't have enough time to discuss the other questions, but I will answer them! 🙂

 

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